PA Leadership Series: Jordan G. Roberts, PA-C

Jordan is one of the first PAs on social media to reach out when EmpoweredPAs.com was developed and has been kind enough to answer some questions for our PA Leadership blog series. Though he is still relatively new in his career, he has made impressive strides and accomplishments over the past few years. I’ve had several email conversations with him, and it’s apparent that he has a devotion for the advancement of the PA profession. Most recently, he spoke at the AAPA 2018 conference about traumatic brain injury and concussions, which a topic he is very passionate about! He works as a neurosurgical PA, and is also an entrepreneur with a focus on medical writing and education. As many of our leaders do, he is involved in many different projects including podcasts, research, and creating CME review products.

1. Tell us a little about yourself? Name, how long you’ve been a PA, where you went to school and anything else you’d like to add.

Name: Jordan G. Roberts, PA-C

PA School: NYIT, class of 2015

I’ve been a neurosurgery PA since completing training in 2015. I began my PA career involved in concussion and traumatic brain injury (TBI) research in Texas. There, I had the fantastic opportunity to be a part of the Science Review Committee for the largest sports-concussion registry in the USA.

After a couple of years in Texas, my wife and I decided to relocate to her hometown of Chicago. Locals know that the job market here is notoriously difficult compared to the rest of the state. Through a friend, however, Kristina learned of a neurosurgical PA opening, which she then helped me land.

In this role, my experience in concussion led me to launch a new sport-concussion clinic for the hospital. I also see a wide range of neurosurgical conditions, and I care for patients in the clinic, hospital, and operating room.

I continue to participate in neurosurgical research, including investigation into TBI and medical devices, particularly novel implants for spine surgery.

I am also an entrepreneur with a passion for medical education and healthcare communications. I am a contract medical writer helping students and clinicians improve their knowledge and skills in neuroscience and writing. I do this by working with industry to create high-quality CME and board-review products, speak on various neurosurgical topics, and share other relevant resources at ModernMedEd.com.

2. What is your role as a leader (business owner/entrepreneur)? What does your typical day look like?

As an early-career PA, I believe it’s important to be involved in your career. I volunteer for hospital committees, stay active in professional associations, and market myself to industry so that I can have a seat at the table. I’ve helped update antiquated hospital bylaws, improve best practices and policies for PA’s, launch new clinical service lines for underserved patient populations, and even start my own business.

As any entrepreneur will tell you, no two days are alike, but consistency is key to success. How does one balance these opposing forces? With the skills learned and fine-tuned in PA school, of course! The most important of which are time management and task prioritization.

During the week, I prioritize my full-time clinical role. However, I think it’s important to keep an eye on the business as much as possible during this time, too. For me, this means focusing on small tasks that move it forward, but that do not require a massive time or energy commitment.

On the weekends, I wake up early to finish a project for a client, record a podcast, or work on improving things over at Modern MedEd. My wife and business partner will talk strategy, finish anything else from the week, then enjoy some time together in the city.

3. Do you divide your time into clinical and administrative tasks?

There is no formal distinction between my clinical and administrative time at my institution. I see patients in the clinic and hospital, assist in surgery, and address my administrative duties whenever possible.

I do, however, separate my personal business from any clinical or administrative time designated for my hospital. While medical education, medical writing, and consulting are generally accepted practices in a healthcare setting, it’s not my preference. I find that I am able to focus better and deliver a higher quality product for my clients when I physically separate these two aspects of my career.

4. Did you pursue a leadership role or was it offered to you?

When leadership opportunities are presented, I believe in most cases, it is because they are earned through prior hard work. As a PA, I have always had to speak up and push for inclusion in the broader medical community, but this is true for every type of healthcare professional. Once I am accepted, almost invariably, I find other members value my contributions as a PA and wish they’d found me earlier.

In the PA community, I have been offered leadership opportunities as a result of my general pursuit of these roles. For example, I am an editorial board member for Clinician1, the largest online community of PA’s and NP’s. This opportunity came after I spent time building a track record of quality contributions to the platform, networking with their leaders, and projecting a positive image of our profession in all of my other activities.

5. How did you prepare for your role? Did you take any leadership or business courses?

I became involved in medical writing, business, and advocacy through a series of fortunate ‘accidents.’ For example, I had supportive mentors prior to and during PA school. By chance, I met influential and contagiously passionate PA’s earlier in my career who helped guide me.

I’ve had no formal business training, though I have always had a passing interest in it. I credit folks like Dave Mittman, PA (AAPA President-elect 2018), Ernie Dole, PharmD, and Beth Smoklo, PA-C (AAPA Director-At-Large 2018) for inspiring my journey. Most importantly, none of the work I do would be remotely possible without the support and encouragement of my wife.

6. Do you have room or opportunities to grow in your current leadership position?

At this point, I’m hoping none of our psych colleagues are reading too deeply into this. I’m concerned they will silently diagnose me with a split personality disorder for having such separate business and clinical lives! As an entrepreneur, the potential for growth is, theoretically, unlimited. I am always surprised by new leadership opportunities that seem to appear the more involved I am in the business.

In my clinical role, the more traditional job, I do think there are opportunities for growth. However, as a PA, it is an uphill journey. I’ve had to fight tooth-and-nail for positive changes both large and small. Although when I look around, I am reminded that anyone in a leadership position, especially those of us who are clinicians, have to fight for the change we want to see.

7. Are you satisfied with your position? If you could do it all over again, would you?

I am happy with what I’m doing, likely because I do see the growth that occurs as a result of my input. It’s a little early in my career to say whether or not I’d do it all over again, but so far, I’m glad I started!

8. Do you think PAs are adequately educated regarding leadership? If not, do you have any suggestions on what should be taught?

As PA’s, we are superbly trained to deliver safe, quality patient-care. Medical training demands so much from each one of us that’s it’s almost understandable that many PA’s (and other clinicians) lack solid leadership, business, and other ‘soft’ skills. However, that’s not to say they can’t be learned.

I am thankful that my PA program had faculty who emphasized the need to be involved with our profession. They made sure we stayed informed of updates in the PA world, which encouraged many of my classmates and I remain active in the community.

As students, we understood the importance of learning medicine, finding a good job, and paying off student loans. We also learned that if we don’t stand up for our profession, nobody else will. Our ability to practice medicine, find a good job, and earn a living depends on this.

In my opinion, more PA faculty engaging in this practice would be the most powerful action the PA community can take to move forward. As a group, PA’s are intelligent, driven, and upstanding folks who can learn and achieve any goal they set. As cheesy as it sounds, I don’t believe there is any reason we would be held back.

9. Do you have any suggestions for newly graduated PAs interested in becoming leaders in their community?

First and foremost, focus on building a deep and intimate cache of medical knowledge in your specialty. I’ve heard leaders across the USA say the most important characteristic any clinician brings to the table is knowledge.

Next, find something outside of patient care that you enjoy and want to contribute to. Whether it’s research, media, politics (including PA organizations), hospital committees, teaching, medical writing, or the pharmaceutical or medical device industries, you have no shortage of options.

However, I do not believe you need to know exactly what that is right away. Just like clinical rotations in school help you decide upon a specialty, you can dabble in a few different areas to determine what other interests you would like to pursue.

While you are choosing a path, you’ll want to talk to as many people as possible about each one. Meeting and making friends with the people in your area of interest (aka networking) is key to meaningful, fulfilling involvement. In my opinion, cultivating this variety is also essential for career satisfaction.

Thanks again to Jordan for being a part of the PA Leadership Q&A! His story and path remind us how versatile and fulfilling our profession can be. You can find him in social media or on his links below:

Home: ModernMedEd.com

FB: ModernMedEd

Twitter: ModernMedEd

Instagram: modernmeded

Figure1: BrainAndCo

Pinterest: ModernMedEd

LinkedIn: JordanGRobertsPA-C

Podcast: Clinician1 Podcast


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Physician Assistant, Owner and Blogger at EmpoweredPAs.com. Currently practicing in a Pediatric Emergency Department, overseeing and developing evidence-based clinical practice guidelines with teams of amazing people, supporting and mentoring Pre-PA and PA Students, with a hope to advance our profession and give PAs the tools and resouces they need to advance their careers.